Carl Ablett: Rob Burrow is a rugby league icon and a sporting inspiration

Rob Burrow.
Rob Burrow.
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IF I was feeling lazy this week I wouldn’t actually need to write a new article; I could just resend last Friday’s and change all the Danny McGuire references to Rob Burrow!

Everything I wrote about Magsy last week applies to Rob. He coached alongside me in the scholarship and has become a good friend.

Adrian Morley.

Adrian Morley.

He was best man at my wedding and it is going to be weird not having him in the changing room next year.

The word legend is overused, but Rob thoroughly deserves it. He’s not just a Rhinos legend, he is an icon of the British game.

It’s no exaggeration to describe him as one of the all-time greats and not only that, but also an inspiration.

He has been massive for us over the past 17 seasons and his record speaks for itself: seven Grand Final wins (two as man of the match), three World Club titles, three league leaders’ shields and two Challenge Cups.

Jack Walker.

Jack Walker.

But he’s had a huge impact on Super League in general, because of his size – or lack of it. Anyone watching rugby league for the first time will notice Rob because he is different to the other players.

He is proof you don’t have to be 6ft 2 and 16 stone to play our sport. Rob’s got more than 500 career games under his belt and I’d like to say that’s because he takes such good care of himself, but I’d be lying!

Rob isn’t someone who’s meticulous about what he eats. If he wants to eat something, he does and it never seems to affect him. He has found a way of doing things that works for him and his body.

That said, he is a total professional. He lives and breathes the game, he does all the extras at training and he is always trying to improve. I think any of his team-mates, past and present, would say he is pound for pound the toughest and most durable they’ve ever played with.

I feel really fortunate to have played with him and he is not only a great player, but a great bloke as well.

He wasn’t much older than me when I came into the team, but he was someone I looked up to – in a manner of speaking – and he was great with helping me make the transition from academy to first team.

I think every young player who has come into the side since then would say the same. It is fantastic news he is staying at the club and working in the player performance department will suit him down to the ground.

He likes to talk, he is a people person and he enjoys working with young kids and helping them develop. Having people like Rob and Adrian Morley in the academy set up is going to attract talented youngsters to Rhinos. Which young player wouldn’t want to learn off those two?

It seems we are also losing Jack Walker, who at 17 is half Rob’s age. I coached Jack in the scholarship and have also played alongside him and he definitely has bags of potential.

It’s a shame he won’t be staying at Leeds, but these things happen. He has to make a decision on what is best for him and his future.

The club can’t just expect players to stay because it’s Leeds; they have to make a competitive offer, which I assume they have done, but in my opinion it will be difficult for him to find anywhere better in rugby league. It is a big club, with a history of success and you get well looked after.

Jack was somewhere between a half and a No1 when I coached him, but he wants to play full-back and that’s a big factor.

He’s got Ashton Golding ahead of him at the moment, who is on a long-term contract, but that’s not unusual. Everybody has to fight for their place.

I remember when I was on the fringe of the first team looking at who was ahead of me and wondering how I was going to force my way in.

But, like lots of players do, I worked hard at training and tried to grab my opportunity when it came along.

If you are good enough you will get picked. That’s how it works – put the effort in and you get the rewards.